How To Increase Gains On Your Bench Press!

There are ways to make great gains on your bench. Let's look at how this can be done.

The most popular lift seems to be the bench press. Just about every lifter is looking to increase how much they can bench. You see ads all over the internet that claim they have programs to increase your bench press 50 pounds in 7 weeks. That is a very unrealistic claim but there are ways to make great gains on your bench. Let's look at how this can be done.

Muscle Groups Used

There are several muscle groups involved in the bench press. The three main groups involved are the pectorals, triceps and deltoids. The posterior and lateral heads of the deltoids act as stabilizers in the bench press, and the anterior (front) deltoids are more involved in the pushing of the bench press. You must develop a good base of strength in the shoulder area. This will not only increase your bench press, it will also help to prevent injury. Rotator cuff exercises should be included in your workout at least once a week. The latissimus dorsi and your legs can also play role in increasing your bench, if you're using proper form.

Proper form will help increase your bench. When you lay down on the bench, your legs should be as far under you as possible. The back of your shoulders, your head and your butt should never leave the bench. An arch in your back is fine, as long as your butt does not leave the bench. Arching your back, is almost like changing into a slight decline, which increases your bench. It also decreases the amount of distance the bar must travel.

Lower the bar to just below the nipple area. Keep your feet as far under you as possible, drive your feet into the ground, drive the back of your shoulders into the bench and explode the bar upward in a strait line. Your shoulder blades should be pulled together, as this creates a more stable form. Your lats should also be flexed during the whole movement. This form needs practice but it will help with your bench.


Moving on to technique. Your handgrip will not make much of a difference, but I personally use the open grip instead of the closed grip (thumb around the bar). Most weight lifters will want to keep there elbows at a right angle and have a wide grip as they lower and push the bar. This allows the chest to do most of the work. If you happen to have very strong triceps and a weak chest, you will want to take a more narrow grip and keep your elbows at about 45 degrees from your body.

Negatives can also add a lot of strength, if they are done correctly. When you do a negative, it should be done with a spotter and you should have more weight then you can max out at. The bar should be lowered as slowly as possible, then have the spotter help you push it back up. These should only be done occasionally because they are very intense.

Dumbell Benches are also a good way to add strength. After you finish your regular benching, follow it up with a few sets of dumbbell bench presses. What I do is one heavy day and then one light day per week, I follow this same pattern for every muscle group.

An example is my chest workout. On Monday I benched 300 lbs. for 4 sets of 3 reps, then I might do about 3 sets of 8 reps with some dumbbells. On Friday, I benched 250 lbs. for 4 sets of 5 reps, and that is all I do for chest because it is my light day.

Of course, you could always increase your calories in your diet. If you gain bodyweight, you will almost always increase your bench press. I'd recommend you make out a bench press schedule to follow for about 7 weeks. Make it so it will slowly increase your bench press. Here is an example:

Steadily Increasing


First set: 50 percent of your max for 8 reps
Second set: 60 percent of your max for 5 reps
Third and Fourth set: 70 percent of your max for 5 reps
Fifth and Sixth set: 75 percent of your max for 3 reps
Last Set: 80 percent of your max to failure

Friday: Light Day

Next Monday

First set: 50 percent of your max for 8 reps
Second and Third set: 70 percent of your max for 3 reps
Fourth and Fifth set: 75 percent of your max for 3 reps
Sixth set: 80 percent of your max for 3 reps
Last Set: 85 percent of your max to failure

Friday: Light Day

Just keep following a pattern like this which will steadily increase your bench press. A few other things need to be mentioned. After warming up, make sure bench press is the first thing you do in your workout. Compound movements should always come first. You should only train at 90 percent (or over) of your max on the bench press for 3 weeks at the most. If you train this heavy very often, it will lead to over training, and your bench will remain the same or decrease.

Sometimes lifters think they are hitting a plateau, when the problem is really that they are just over training. I'd recommend that you max about every 5 weeks. Maxing out is a great way to develop strength. I'd also recommend that after 7 weeks of intense training, take 5 days or about a week off.

This allows your body to fully recover and prepare for your next program. And always do chest and triceps on the same day. The best exercises for strength in your triceps would be close-grip benches, lying tricep extensions and dips. Your triceps should be worked very hard. Also, make sure you are going heavy with no more then 6 reps per set.

If you follow these tips with a good diet and sleep patterns, expect your bench to increase.